Doug Rapp, Venice Current / SMDP Staff Writer

Soccer has taken Alessandro Canale from the sands of Venice Beach to the sands of Costa Rica.

A Venice native, Canale is a forward on the U.S. Men’s Beach Soccer National Team, which is competing in the Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship in Alajuela, Costa Rica, through May 23. The 12-nation tournament will send the two winners to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Russia in August. Games are live streamed through the Concacaf Facebook account.

Playing in Costa Rica is a sort of homecoming for Canale. His mother is from Costa Rica and he’s visited the small Central American country often.

“It feels pretty cool, actually,” Canale said of playing there, adding that he played in the tournament facility a few years ago while visiting family in Costa Rica.

Canale’s international roots also include his Italian father, a general contractor and actor. Briefly following in his father’s footsteps, Canale has appeared in commercials and TV shows, such as Malcolm in the Middle. (Although he hasn’t acted much since the 2007-08 Writers Guild strike, he said he may get back into it.)

Canale, 31, said he’s grateful his parents’ global paths crossed in Venice.

“I couldn’t have asked for a cooler place to have as my backyard,” he said, adding Venice exposed him to many different aspects of life that influenced him.

“It’s just a unique experience and I’m thankful my parents landed in Venice and decided to start a family there.”

His father took the young Canale to the pull-up bars, gymnastic rings and handball courts along Ocean Front Walk. Canale soon started playing most parts and focused on soccer. He played at Santa Monica High School and club soccer for the Santa Monica United Scorpions. After attending Santa Monica College and graduating from UC-San Diego, he made the men’s beach national team in 2013.

Since then, Canale’s racked up impressive achievements: the youngest member of the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup team, scoring three goals in the 2019 World Cup and becoming the fourth all-time leading scorer in World Cup Qualifying games with 14 goals.

Canale said beach soccer is a “much more engaging game” with high scoring and more aerial plays. “You get more of a show. It’s almost like a performance.”

Besides the obvious difficulty of running on the sand, Canale said beach soccer differs in technical ways from turf soccer. The beach field is smaller, with only five players per team instead of the usual 11. Beach soccer games run three 12-minute periods versus two 45-minute halves in outdoor soccer.

Canale said beach soccer is “tactically quite different” as well. Players can pass the ball to the goalkeeper, who can use hands to throw the ball back in play. Players can throw or kick the ball into play from the sidelines as well.

“You need to really be on your toes ready to play,” he said. “It’s a fun sport.”

In addition to playing for the national team, Canale has been playing arena soccer for the Tacoma Stars for the past two years. Although soccer takes up much of his time, Canale also occasionally helps his father with construction and does creative design work, which can be seen on his Instagram account, along with a few murals he painted on the westside.

Still living in Venice, Canale said he’s also developing a curriculum to teach kids beach soccer.

“It’s important and beneficial for youth development for playing indoor, outdoor or any kind of soccer,” Canale said.

Hoping to play soccer as long as he can, Canale wants to stay near the sport and continue working in art and construction.

“If construction, soccer and art are able to merge together, I’d love to be involved in that. I think at some point I can make that happen.”